Pro-Assad demonstration. 'Confirmation in writing from Syria'
Photo: Reuters

Syria to boycott Arab Games in Doha, Qatar

Damascus protests Arab League decision to suspend its membership by boycotting sporting event

Syria says it will boycott upcoming Arab Games in Qatar's capital Doha to protest against an Arab League decision to suspend the country's membership.


The 22-member bloc voted for the suspension Saturday over Syria's bloody crackdown against an eight-month uprising and failure to implement an Arab League-brokered peace plan.


In a joint statement, the Syrian Olympic Committee and the General Sports Federation said Sunday that Syrian athletes will not take part in the games scheduled for Dec. 9-23.


The statement carried by the state-run news agency SANA said the Arab League's decision was a "black point" in the organization's history and that Syrian athletes will confront the conspiracy against their country.


On Sunday, an Arab Games official told Reuters Syria will take part in December's events despite the country's suspension from the Arab League.  


"They will participate and we are welcoming all athletes from the Arab nations," Abdulla al-Mulla, acting director for ceremonies at the 22-country Doha Games said.


"We never mix up politics with sport, so they are most welcome to come to Doha. And the confirmation, we have that in writing from Syria."


Asked if Syria might withdraw from the December 9-23 Games if the political stand-off between President Bashar Assad and his Arab counterparts worsened, Mulla said: "It's their decision, but the doors are always open for all the Arab athletes."


The Arab League was imposing economic and political sanctions on Damascus and had appealed to member states to withdraw their ambassadors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said on Saturday.


It also called on the Syrian Army to stop killing civilians. Assad has cracked down on protesters against his rule and the United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in seven months of violence in the country.


Some 6,000 athletes are expected at the Arab Games which will include soccer, swimming, athletics, gymnastics, equestrian events and basketball.


AP and Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 11.14.11, 07:49
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